Americans Trust the Gov’t More than the Church to Make 'Meaningful Change': Barna

Michael Foust | Contributor | Friday, October 21, 2022
Americans Trust the Gov’t More than the Church to Make 'Meaningful Change': Barna

Americans Trust the Gov’t More than the Church to Make 'Meaningful Change': Barna

Americans are twice as likely to say the government is responsible for creating “meaningful change” in the nation than they are to say the same about the church, according to a new Barna survey.

The poll, released this week, found that 52 percent of U.S. adults believe the national government is “responsible for creating meaningful change,” while only 26 percent answered that way about religious organizations and 25 percent about Christian churches. Respondents could list multiple answers.

The state government (51 percent) and local government (46 percent) had similar support as the national government.

“When asked which institutions can help create meaningful change in a divided nation, Americans overwhelmingly believe the government (at the national, state and local levels) is responsible for curing the ills of the United States,” a Barna analysis said. “Half of Americans see the federal government as responsible for making things better – that’s twice the number that hold religious organizations or Christian churches responsible for making real change possible.”

Even so, Americans still value the contributions of individuals, according to a different section of the survey. Asked to name which persons are “responsible for creating meaningful change,” Americans listed “individuals” (48 percent) and “myself” (46 percent) above the president (44 percent) and politicians (42 percent). Yet even there, religious leaders (26 percent) and Christian leaders (26 percent) ranked low.

Half of all adults (50 percent) say they believe individuals have more influence to create meaningful change than do institutions (38 percent).

Despite the survey having bad news for religious institutions, Americans say they still would trust a Christian pastor for guidance when dealing with “difficult conversations about sensitive topics,” with 70 percent answering affirmatively.

“With one in five Americans reporting a relationship that was negatively impacted by the 2020 election, it’s encouraging to know that, when thinking on future conversations U.S. adults might have with loved ones, they consider pastors to be a reliable source of wisdom,” the analysis said.

The poll was based on interviews with 2,001 adults.

Photo courtesy: Sara Cottle/Unsplash

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.